Radio, whats new? Someone still loves you.
Someone? In these days of complex technology, digital life soundtracks and connectivity, we’ve started listening in our millions to simple voices telling simple stories again. Podcasting and radio in its purest form. Real people and their real lives, be that sharing the embarrassment of their Dad’s porno story or simple tips on 100 things you can do with an avocado. My precious mum loved radio and her pin-ups were the DJs and presenters who spoke to her one-to-one. She had signed photos of all of them and a couple of letters politely telling her that no, the listeners probably wouldn’t want to hear her little daughter coming on to sing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella. When all my friends were listening to 70s pop, I hid my transistor under my pillow, listening to phone-ins and lush, orchestral arrangements on Radio 2 into the wee small hours. I was in my own world full of interesting people discussing interesting things from their worlds. Nobody arguing, no parents pulling you from pillar to post about where you were going to live post-divorce. Just pure, gorgeous voices talking.
Inspired by Mum, I’m starting a podcast this year along with a fantastic friend whose mother was also called Margaret and had an equally charismatic stamp on the world and people around her. The podcast feels like the most logical next step after writing this blog. Inspired by Mum’s mischievousness and unfettered exuberance for life, we are lifting off from the written word to the spoken word. I can’t wait and it’ll take me right back to my professional roots when I worked as a radio producer for BBC Light Entertainment and then BBC Radio 2. Yes, I fulfilled that childhood dream to be in the studio when the lush orchestra reached its climax and I got on the talkback to say “Thank you everybody, that’s a take.” I worked with the voices I’d grown to love and found out about the real people. Some of them are no longer with us, but their voices are always there to be pulled out of the memory filing system if I close my eyes and travel back in time.
I’m attaching a file here which I haven’t been brave enough to listen to until today. I thought long and hard about sharing it and decided that she’d have loved the music and our voices talking together, so here it is. How she managed it, I’ll never know, but Mum must have accidentally stumbled upon the voice recorder app on my iphone when I stayed with her a month before she died. She was very weak, in and out of lucidity and it was clear that her memory and body was failing dramatically, except for sudden bursts of activity inspired by the music we had playing in the background. The overwhelming thing for me is that it captures at around 5 minutes in, an intimate conversation forever and one I will never tire of hearing over and over from now on. It’s the conversation I hope might inspire others to have with their own mothers before it’s too late. You’ll hear a scrabbling at the end which is me realising that the phone had been recording something. She certainly didn’t know anything about iphones, but somehow, magically, her busy fingers pressed all the right buttons.
It IS going to be a happy new year – I can feel it in my bones.